Equal Access

1833

The first free modern public library was opened in 1833. The Peterborough (N.H.) Town Libraries was the first institution funded by a municipality with the explicit purpose of establishing a free library open to all classes of the community. 

1848

The first public library in the U.S. is contested, but there are three generally accepted answers.  The last contender for this title is the Boston Public Library. It was the first free municipal library in a large community and was founded in 1848, almost thirty years before ALA

1905

The first bookmobile was established in 1905 at the Washington County Public Library (Md.). The original bookmobile was a wagon with horses which were driven by the library janitor. The was wagon had room for 200 books.  Mary L. Titcomb was the librarian who instigated this innovation. It was originally designed for service to children.

1918

ALA opened a library for American military personnel in Paris during 1918. This library was later established (1920) as the American Library in Paris

"During the closing years of World War I, when the United States entered the conflict, hundreds of American libraries launched the Library War Service, a massive project to send books to the doughboys fighting in the trenches - by the Armistice, nearly a million and a half books.

1921

The first ALA round table met to encourage library patron diversity, " ALA's Work with Negroes Round Table". The round table was began to examine the state of equitable access to library materials for African-Americans.  The round table continued for  two years before being disbanded. Tensions flared between librarians in the north and the south causing the ALA to suspend the round table.

1921

Thomas Fountain Blue was the first African-American to head a public library system. In 1921, he became the first African-American to speak at an ALA program.

"The Reverend Thomas F. Blue, the nation’s first African-American to head a public library, was a respected leader in the civic, religious, and educational life of the Louisville black community.

1958

The first National Library Week occured in 1958.

"First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries - school, public, academic and special - participate.

1995

Children's Day/Book Day, also known as El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día), is a celebration of children, families, and reading and held annually on April 30. The celebration emphasizes the importance of advocating literacy for every child regardless of linguistic and cultural background. Through several grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) continues to increase public awareness of the event in libraries throughout the country.

1998

In 1998 the ALA Council voted commitment to five Key Action Areas as guiding principles for directing the Association’s energies and resources: Diversity, Equity of Access, Education and Continuous Learning, Intellectual Freedom, and 21st Century Literacy.

Pages